3 Ways You Can Use Your HA Fellowship Experience in Academic Job Applications

By Francisco A. Medina

Last semester I applied for a teaching position at a community college and was able to leverage my experience as a Humanities Alliance Fellow in application materials and interviews. In this blog post, I share 3 ways you can use your fellowship experience in academic job applications.


Perhaps the most obvious one, but still very important, is to think about how you want to present the fellowship in your CV. Depending on what you did, you might consider listing it under fellowships, work experience, or creating a different section altogether. For example, during the fellowship I worked with faculty to update the Liberal Arts ePortfolio, contributed to a faculty seminar where I was able to share ideas for a new course, designed and conducted surveys and focus groups, and did a few presentations and training sections for faculty. 

In my CV, I ended up creating a “Consulting Experience” category to list everything I did during the fellowship. Depending on what you did during your fellowship, you might be able to list it as Research Experience, Presentations, Community Service, or come up with your own category. 

It might even be helpful to “break” the things you did under different sections. For example, any public presentations or service can go under those categories. This really depends on your CV and the job you are applying for. Since I had other service and presentation experiences, I did not list anything I did during the fellowship in those categories. I ended up listing everything I did under the “Consulting Experience.”

Cover Letter

This is the part where you can draw heavily on your HA experience. I was very lucky that the job I applied to was at the same community college where I did my fellowship, but I think everyone should mention the fellowship in their cover letter. 

If you read about academic cover letters, one of the first suggestions you will find is to “show that you are not only a good academic, but that you are a good person to work with who is committed to working at that particular institution” (Cover letters for faculty job applications, para 7). It is very important to demonstrate your potential for service to the department and for collaboration with other professors. 

In my cover letter, I mentioned that beyond my teaching experience, I had experience collaborating with faculty in projects at the college and had gained insights about the care and dedication of professors and staff, the mission of the institution, and the importance of cross-collaborations through the HA fellowship. It was also evidence of my commitment to community colleges, my broad range of skills, and most importantly, my potential for service and ability to work with other faculty. I did this by naming some of the different projects and departments I worked with during the fellowship, emphasizing that I had collaborated with faculty, staff, and administrators alike.  

The Job Interview

I ended up getting called for two interviews. The first was with the hiring committee and the second one was with the provost. I was able to reference my experiences through the fellowship in both interviews, but especially during the first one when asked about my potential areas for service at the institution.

I mentioned what I had worked on in the past two years with faculty and what I had learned about areas I could contribute to based on the needs of faculty and students. I mentioned the possibility of continuing the work I had been doing during my fellowship, doing something similar for the department (e.g., updating the ePortfolio of the department) and other project ideas based on my combined experience of teaching, researching, and consulting (HA Fellowship) at the college. 

Very importantly, I emphasized that I wanted to collaborate with other faculty in and outside the program, and that because of the fellowship I already knew several professors I could perhaps collaborate with. 

On the second interview, the conversation focused more on my pedagogy. However, I was able to show how my pedagogical philosophy translates to other areas, such as making the Liberal Arts ePortfolio more relevant to students. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

Everyone’s experience with the fellowship is different, so it is important to take the time to think about how you want to present your experience. Perhaps you engaged in curriculum development, conference organizing, selected readings for a seminar, reviewed literature, social-justice oriented projects, etc. Think of how you can use your experience to address the preferred qualifications and requirements listed in the position you are applying for. 

Below are some questions I found helpful to ask myself:

  • What skills and knowledge did you gain through the fellowship? How might these fall under the skills or qualifications the application is asking for beyond teaching and research (e.g., service)? 
  • What ‘soft’ or transferable skills and knowledge did you gain during the fellowship (e.g., understanding the mission of community colleges)?
  • How does the fellowship demonstrate your ability to work well with others, apply your research/pedagogical/PhD skills in a different context, and/or manage projects?
  • How does your work in the fellowship demonstrate your teaching philosophy outside the classroom? 
  • What new ideas for future service, research, teaching, or other projects have you gained through the fellowship (e.g., maybe you want to organize a conference for community college pedagogy in the future)?
  • How has the fellowship changed your understanding of community college or higher education more broadly? Perhaps it inspired you to become a community college professor, higher ed administrator, or educational consultant.
  • What new perspectives did you bring to the fellowship as a graduate student? How did you contribute and expand the projects you worked on?

It can feel overwhelming to think about how to include your HA fellowship experience in your job applications, but it can also be exciting. It can be a chance to think deeply, creatively, and broadly about your experience, skills, and qualifications.